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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 22 January–4 February 2009.

Rising sea makes Ganges salty

Rising sea levels are increasing the amount of salt in the river Ganges and destroying its ecosystem, a climate change scientist warns. The intrusion of salty seawater into a river — signified by an increase in mangroves — will make adjoining farmland barren, says Pranabes Sanyal of the Kolkata-based Jadavpur University. More>>

Bangladeshi ministries get climate change support

Bangladesh has set up a secretariat within its environment ministry to deal with climate change. Each ministry will also have a climate change 'cell' — a group of experts to mitigate the impact of climate change in their respective sectors. More>>

Bangladesh goes digital
Bangladesh plans to go digital in a big way, with the new government's announcement of a "digital Bangladesh" by 2021. There are suggestions about introducing e-learning in education, and to use information communication technologies (ICTs) in agriculture, healthcare, the environment, the judiciary and business. More>>

Scientists find complexity in Indian HIV proteins
Scientists studying 'envelope' or outer coat proteins of HIV viruses from India say that while newly transmitted HIV-1 strains in the country are genetically similar, their proteins are different. Although they all belong to the C subtype of HIV-1, their envelope proteins elicit different types of immune responses. The findings provide a deeper understanding of the HIV-1 envelope in India — a country with over 2.5 million infected people. More >>

Enzyme 'protects rodents against malaria'
Scientists have found an enzyme that partially protects mice against malaria infection. The enzyme — found in the rodent-infecting parasite Plasmodium berghei — slows the rate of production of the chemical glutathione, which helps malaria-infected red blood cells withstand stress. Indian scientists who isolated and purified the enzyme say it could have a potential role in malaria control. More>>

Cash crunch for Pakistan's environment monitoring agency
The Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) faces a cash crunch —in the year that the country has designated its year of the environment. Projects that fall within its environment monitoring system, which tracks pollution from industries and in wastewaters have been particularly hard hit. More>>

Microbe mixture mops up toxic dyes
A mixture of two bacteria — Proteus vulgaris and Micrococcus glutamicus — completely decolourised waters containing 'azo dyes' — the red, brown or yellow pigments widely used for colouring in textile industries. This microbial mixture has potential use in the biological treatment of dye-containing wastewaters, say scientists. More>>

Pakistan's forests 'disappearing'
Pakistan's president Asif Zardari has ordered massive reforestation in the country, following reports of indiscriminate and large scale destruction of forest trees by the country's timber 'mafia'. The president also expressed concern over the diversion of forests into uses such as housing projects. More>>

Methane guzzlers clean up industrial solvent
Bacteria that survive on methane as their source of energy can break down the harmful industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE). The bacteria, called methanotrophs, have been attracting attention as they can not only remove methane, a greenhouse gas, but also clean up several environment contaminants. More>>

Sri Lankan green cuppa 'can prevent strokes'
A joint study by Sri Lankan and Chinese researchers has found that a group of chemicals called flavonoids present in Ceylon green tea could help prevent stroke. Chinese green tea has been found to have these beneficial effects, but this is the first time they have been reported from Sri Lanka's green tea. More>>

Metal-chomping bacteria
Scientists have unearthed a metal chomping bacterium from uranium mines in India. Pseudomonas fluorescens can digest multiple heavy metals and could be useful in developing an efficient method to capture heavy metals in the environment, they report. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by A. A. Khan, Mustak Hossain and Mir Saadi.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the South Asia Regional Coordinator T. V. Padma ([email protected]).

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